The board of Russia’s Norilsk Nickel on Tuesday recommended a nine-month dividend of 98.64 billion roubles ($1.24 billion), at 623.35 roubles per share, down sharply fall from 2019.
The company’s biggest shareholder Vladimir Potanin told Reuters last week that Norilsk Nickel should keep its dividends to a minimum this year, as it contends with the coronavirus crisis and a potential $2 billion environmental damages bill.
Potanin’s Interros Holding, aluminum producer Rusal and some other stakeholders have a dividend agreement that suggests Nornickel pays them at least twice a year.
Rusal, counting on dividends from its 27.8% stake in Nornickel, was satisfied with the amount of possible interim dividends, deputy CEO of Rusal Maxim Poletayev told Reuters.
“Based on the current situation, we believe their amount is optimal,” he said.
Interros and Nornickel declined further comment.
Nornickel’s shares were up 0.85% in Moscow on Tuesday.
Nornickel, the world’s largest palladium producer and the leading producer of nickel, paid a total of 323.65 billion rubles in dividends for 2019 (about $4 billion at the current exchange rate).
Nornickel suffered a fuel spill at an Arctic power plant in May, for which Russia’s environmental watchdog wants the company to pay about $2 billion in damages.
After the spill, Potanin, who owns a stake of 34.2%, proposed capping 2020 dividends at $1 billion.
($1 = 79.3075 roubles)
(By Anastasia Teterevleva, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Edmund Blair and Lisa Shumaker)